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Antons Mozalevskis

Hepatitis B vaccination - a safe and powerful tool to support the goal of elimination of viral hepatitis

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The 7th World Hepatitis Day on 28 July 2017 provides a historic opportunity to campaign to "Eliminate hepatitis", the 2030 goal to which all 53 WHO European Member States committed in 2016.

Eliminating the threat of infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) requires a comprehensive approach that includes prevention of infections acquired immediately before and after birth and during childhood, as well as during adolescence and adulthood.

Following a thorough review of available evidence, WHO concluded in its updated vaccine position paper on hepatitis B released in early July 2017 that vaccination programmes against hepatitis B are very safe and effective. Studies have shown a dramatic decrease in deaths due to acute and chronic liver diseases among vaccinated people and in the number of cases of hepatitis-related liver cancer. Hepatitis B vaccine is known as the first vaccine that prevents cancer (the second being the vaccine against human papillomavirus to prevent cervical cancer).

48 of the 53 countries in the WHO European Region conduct universal hepatitis B vaccination, offering population-wide protection against hepatitis B and its complications. In addition, United Kingdom will start administering a hexavalent vaccine to children born after 1 August 2017.

For more information about hepatitis B in Europe, see:

·       WHO fact sheet on Hepatitis B: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/hepatitis/news/news/2015/07/viral-hepatitis-400-deaths-a-day-in-the-who-european-region-could-be-prevented/factsheet-hepatitis-b

·       Action plan for the health sector response to viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region. DRAFT (2016): http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/hepatitis/publications/2016/action-plan-for-the-health-sector-response-to-viral-hepatitis-in-the-who-european-region.-draft-2016

·       World Hepatitis Day: Making hepatitis elimination a reality: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/hepatitis/news/news/2017/07/world-hepatitis-day-making-hepatitis-elimination-a-reality

·       WHO European Region moving closer to control of hepatitis B: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/hepatitis/news/news/2017/07/who-european-region-moving-closer-to-control-of-hepatitis-b

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